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4. Dealing With Difficulty

It can be difficult to speak up for yourself, especially if it’s your first gluten-free holiday season. Family members or friends who suggest “just one bite” are typically well-meaning, but it can be difficult to say no without feeling guilty. Parsons offers some suggestions for dealing with these situations. “One thing to remember is that family members may feel like offering you food is their attempt to include you,” she says. She reminds those on restricted diets that when friends or relatives don’t seem to understand or aren’t sympathetic, it’s more about their fears or feeling uncomfortable. “It’s their coping mechanism—they don’t know what to do with the changes in your eating. It will take time for them to get comfortable with that.”

Parsons suggests a straightforward and assertive “no thank you,” “I’m really satisfied” or “I’m doing OK.” Finding a distraction also works well. “You could try changing the conversation or go to another activity, like sharing family pictures from the last year,” she recommends. Lighthearted comments may be helpful, too. “Try ‘I couldn’t eat another bite’ or ‘I might be a little nutty if I eat a piece of the pecan pie!”

In the end, there might be family members who are still pushy with food. “At some point, you might want to think about whether this relationship is a healthy one for me,” she notes. “There will always be people who support you and, unfortunately, those who hinder you. Try to touch base frequently with those who support you.”

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